Archive for July, 2009


one hand clapping

July 29, 2009

i’ve previously discussed the various enduring existential crises surrounding my decision to leave grad school for the “real” world. but today i came across an older post from elsewhere that reminded me of part of why that decision was so painful:

But the truth, I think, is that part of what’s so painful about “leaving” academia is that we usually aren’t leaving by choice. More often, academia is leaving us, and all we’re doing is having to slowly come to the point of acknowledging that we’ve been left alone in this big apartment full of books, maybe with a cat or two, and a big pile of bills on the counter. Academia, that bastard; he just up and walked one day, and it took us a while to realize he wasn’t going to come back. 

the main thread of this post doesn’t really apply to me – i walked away because i couldn’t deal with teaching, for the most part, not because i couldn’t find a job – but the language she employs struck me hard.

Read the rest of this entry ?


flying into space

July 27, 2009

so one of the many things that bothers me, when i take a look at myself and my life, is that i feel i’ve become this person who is afraid of things. i’ve had anxiety problems off and on for the past few years, and while they tend to be mild, i have this extra level of anxiety where i’m afraid i might wig out about something (any anxiety attack i have tends to be circles within circles, where i’m basically just driving myself crazy. it’s awesome). naturally, i hate this, because who wouldn’t? it blows. i try not to let it run my life, i try to push myself to do things even if i think it might freak me out (within reason; no skydiving). i’m not always successful, but i try. 

on saturday i went to the solano county fair with some friends. we did it up right, rides and all. it’s easy to forget how great the fair can be, when you live in a place with actual culture and no longer rely on it for your yearly entertainment (although obviously, it’s not as awesome as when you’re 12. nothing ever is). but, as one of my friends said, “there are no pretentious people at the fair.” the fair simply is: overpriced fried food, games with silly prizes (i won a bear), slumming former pop stars, livestock competitions, heat and dust and shrieking children. 

Read the rest of this entry ?


upstaged again

July 22, 2009

today, while doing one kind of work (although not the kind i’m supposed to be doing during the day), i came across an interview with sherman alexie, who i’ve long adored, talking about why he hates ebooks. since i’m leery of them myself (i love the tactile experience of reading a book), but working in publishing, where digital is the future, i found the piece interesting. here’s the best part:

I love my iPod, my cell phone, my computer, and my HDTV. I have and enjoy a strong Internet presence with a great website and I have published poems and stories all over the web. In fact, I just published a poem that’s in the current online and print versions of the New Yorker. People are eager to portray me as being anti-technology, but that’s not the case at all. I think the iPod is as vital as the fork and wheel. So I’m not even sure why I have this strange, subterranean fear and loathing of the Kindle and its kind. I think it’s really about childhood. Books saved my life, Edward. I rose out of poverty and incredible social dysfunction because of books. And all of my senses-sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste-come into play when I think and read about books. Books are tactile and eccentric. An eBook will always be a gorgeous but anonymous box. It will also be just a tool–perhaps an amazing and useful tool-but I don’t want it to replace the book. And I’m worried that many people don’t care about the book itself, and see the eBook as a replacement. And I’m worried that Amazon and other eBook distributors will completely replace bookstores. The careers of nearly every successful writer are based on the amazing human interaction between bookstore employees and readers. I enjoy an amazing career because, over the last seventeen years, bookstore employees, librarians, and book lovers have handed a copy of my book to another person and said, “You have to read this.” That face-to-face interaction will become more and more rare. Sure, the Internet can launch careers, but there is a loss of intimacy that should be acknowledged and mourned.

Read the rest of this entry ?


another damn wedding

July 16, 2009

this week, a topic that has recently become near and dear to my heart: weddings!*

so the question is actually what’s the best music or reading you’ve experienced during a wedding. i haven’t attended that many, and aside from the stanford band, i don’t really recall the music. but i have a large music collection, so i’m always willing to make suggestions.

of course, my taste in romantic music tends to run towards the offbeat or downright tragic (i love me some sad songs), or more about living with lost love than with love itself (for instance, i think rilo kiley’s “for the rest of my life” is a sweet, lovely song, but it’s not really the best choice for a wedding).

some other suggestions that might** be slightly more appropriate while still being somewhat varied and designed to appeal to a variety of people: Read the rest of this entry ?


a whole 4 months

July 15, 2009

some days, living in oakland is just too goddamned depressing for words.


have fun storming the castle!

July 14, 2009

today is bastille day, a french national holiday commemorating the storming of the bastille on july 14, 1789, a symbolically important event in the early stages of the french revolution. now, i am not even close to an expert on french history. in fact, in reading the wikipedia article on bastille day, i’m seeing things that seem important (like the tennis court oath), but i have no memory of their actual historical importance. look, guys, the french revolution was complicated. it had lots of players and lots of phases. i’m not remotely qualified to break it all down for you.

what i can tell you is that 1789 is considered a turning point in world history generally, and in european history particularly. 1789 is generally given as the start of the “modern” period and the long 19th century (1789 – 1914). the french revolution gave rise to robespierre and the terror; to napoleon and his imperial ambitions, which directed european politics and international relations until 1815 and weakened or brought down the spanish empire and the holy roman empire; and to a new kind of nationalist republicanism that so frightened europe’s other imperial powers that it provoked a crackdown (as seen in the settlements reached at the congress of vienna) throughout europe that emphasized the conservative order and imperial control over liberal republicanism–although issues of nationalism and liberalism would percolate throughout the 19th century and periodically flare up in more dramatic ways, such as in the revolutions of 1848, and would come to dominate european politics in the 20th century.


bludgeon yer eye

July 10, 2009

this week’s question revolves around first jobs and pop culture memories associated with them. for this, i am counting my first real job, working in a strange independent drug store in berkeley when i was 18. i worked there off and on for years; the owner loved me (she had no ability to hire reliable people, so having one actual responsible person around made her happy) and would always take me back when i needed a job, no questions asked.

Read the rest of this entry ?